Friday 15 December 2017

Dunne demands vast improvement

Wexford 2-16 Carlow 0-20

THIS was a real dogfight as Wexford had to dig deep before edging to victory over luckless Carlow at Wexford Park.

THIS was a real dogfight as Wexford had to dig deep before edging to victory over luckless Carlow at Wexford Park.

It may have ended as expected, but for lengthy periods of this game it looked as if Carlow were about to cause a shock and they were desevedly level, 2-14 to 0-20, with five minutes remaining.

It was only points in the closing minutes that edged the home side through, in an absorbing tussle.

Carlow had been written off prior to the game but they set about confounding their critics, as they played with style and composure. Over the 70 minutes they played most of the quality hurling as they looked like handing manager John Meyler, a former Wexford boss, a victory on his return to native soil.


In the 57th minute the visitors, leading by two points, 0-17 to 1-12, missed a golden chance to put take total control.

Substitute James Doyle won possession out to the right of goal, created space, but saw his shot go just outside the right upright with 'keeper Mark Fanning beaten.

A goal at that juncture would have left Wexford with a mountain to climb in the closing 15 minutes.

"I am shattered with the result, but proud of the display of the team," said Meyler. "We very nearly masterminded what would have been a shock result. But we went into this game confident we could deliver a result and we came mighty close.

"Had James' effort ended in the net, it would have put us five points clear, a match-winning position.

"Even when Wexford went in front, the lads battled back level. We conceded two late points but also missed a couple of chances. This is a young side and can only improve."

But Wexford manager Liam Dunne was far from happy with his side.

"You could not be happy with the display. But whether the boys under-estimated Carlow or what, that first-half display was not acceptable. We allowed Carlow to get a foothold," he said.

"It's from games like this that you learn most. We are a very young side, in transition, our fourth competitive game on successive weekends, so maybe the lads were a bit tired.

"We'll need to show improvement for the next phase, which is another huge learning curve for the players."

When these sides met in last year's qualifiers, Wexford won by 10 points, but on Saturday, Carlow stepped up to the challenge as they played with composure and skill.

Carlow posted the opening point inside the first minute through a David English free out of midfield. English went on to control midfield along with Jack Kavanagh in the first half.

Wexford responded with points from Jack Guiney (free) and Rory Jacob but, by the 14th minute, points from English (free), Mark Brennan and Craig Doyle had Carlow 0-5 to 0-2 up.

Then Wexford struck for the game's opening goal. A long crossfield ball from Guiney found corner-forward Padge Doran. He shook off his marker and blazed a shot from 14 metres and an acute angle high into the net, to level things at 0-5 to 1-2.

Scores from John Michael Nolan, Doyle and a long Kavangh effort had Carlow back in front, 0-8 to 1-2, after 20 minutes. English and Andrew Gaule exchanged points with Guiney before English stretched Carlow into a 0-13 to 1-4 lead, before Guiney responded with two frees to leave the Barrowsiders leading 0-13 to 1-6 at the interval.

Again Carlow stepped up to the challenge on the resumption. After Garrett Sinnott and English exchanged points, the visitors responded with points from Eddie Byrne and English.

But then came Doyle's near miss, and shortly afterwards Wexford substitute David Redmond crashed home a 58th-minute goal, to give the hosts a 2-12 to 0-17 lead.

Points from Jacob and a Guiney free extended the lead but again Carlow responded with excellent points from English (two frees) and Sean Murphy, to tie it up at 2-14 to 0-20 with five minutes left.

And Wexford secured victory as wing-back Ciaran Kenny sent over a point out of midfield, with Guiney pointing a free two minutes from time.

SCORERS – Wexford: J Guiney 0-11 (10fs), P Doran, D Redmond 1-0 each, R Jacob 0-2, C Kenny, G Sinnott, E Quigley 0-1 each. Carlow: D English 0-11 (10fs), C Doyle, J M Nolan 0-2 each; J Kavanagh, M Brennan, S Murphy, A Gaule, E Byrne 0-1 each.

Wexford – M Fanning 7; E Moore 7, T Waters 7, B Kenny 6; R Kehoe 6, M O'Regan 7, C Kenny 9; H Kehoe 6, Shaun Murphy 6; J Guiney 7, G Sinnott 7, L Chin 7; P Morris 6, R Jacob 7, P Doran 7. Subs: D Redmond 7 for Murphy (31 mins); J Tonks 7 for Regan (41); E Quigley 7 for H Kehoe (42); G Moore 6 for Morris (57); C O'Shaughnessy 6 for Chin (62).

Carlow – F Foley 6; C McCabe 7, E Nolan 7, H P Byrne 6; D Byrne 7, R Coady 7, E Coady 7; J Kavanagh 7, D English 8; E Byrne 6, M Brennan 7, S Murphy 7; C Doyle 7, J M Nolan 6, A Gaule 6. Subs: M Kavanagh 7 for Gaule (41); J Doyle 6 for Nolan (55).

REF – A Kelly (Galway).

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